Finding pleasure in quake recovery yarns


When Cantabrians gather (share an elevator, queue for coffee, form a lynch mob), talk soon returns to the quakes and how our recoveries are going.

How's the house?

Settled by EQC?

Any sight of a TC3 drilling rig?

Sued anybody yet?

I rarely tire of these chats because each is unique. Everyone has a story that's all their own - like a fingerprint.

These tales loop and whorl in amazing and heartbreaking ways.

An overcap friend was paid out by EQC in December 2010 (really!), but EQC wants to reinspect for a third time in case it can reclaim some money.

A glance at the friend's EQC file would reveal a scope of works that costs repairs at about $400,000.

It's unlikely EQC has overpaid.

A red-zoned colleague has virtually been blacklisted by his private insurer because he lost his temper once too often.

Another friend's four-week repair has now entered it's ninth week.

Someone else was allowed to use some of their accommodation allowance on hotels at  European ski resorts. They paid for the flights.

Quake recovery is like a braided river.

We're all headed in the same direction (downhill!) but some are caught in a slow-moving branch of the river, others are hung up on sandbars, others were randomly found by a current and zoomed downstream.

Some are even bobbing around the sea.

Most of started at the same place - in bed on September 2010.

Consider us water molecules somewhere on the main divide of the Alps. We tumbled into the streams that fed the Waitaki or Rakia rivers.

We tumbled and dropped towards February 2011, which was an unexpected and nasty waterfall.

In time, most of us came to the plains and our journeys slowed and often halted.

My family spent  12 months in an eddy called EQC Apportionment. A few weeks back, our number came up and we were spit back into the current. It's too soon to say if the water is fast moving.

Our neighbours were pried free of apportionment last week. Like us, they're overcap and now we're eyeing each other over the fence wondering who might get repaired first.

Our stories are far from done. There's pain and amusement to come.

I'm just hoping my water molecule isn't flushed into the Bromley poo ponds.

The Press